Skip to content

by Janice Florent

image showing distracted students in a classroom

Technology in education is great, distraction is not...Digital technology in the classroom is here to stay, whether it’s provided directly by the school or used surreptitiously by students on the sly. The question is not, "Should we allow digital devices in the classroom?", it’s "Now that they’re here, how can we prevent digital devices from becoming a distraction?"

A post by Leah Anne Levy, at Edudemic, suggests the following tips for dealing with digital distractions in the classroom:

  • Destroy the multitasking myth
  • Rethink smartphones bans
  • Write how they read
  • Use their unique distraction styles to spark learning
  • Don’t post everything online
  • Create opportunities for curiosity outside the digital space
  • Teach grit

You can read more about this in Leah's post 7 Ways to Deal with Digital Distractions in the Classroom.

1

by Janice Florent

image showing YouTube icon on web page

Christopher Pappas, MBA, M.Ed., discusses various ways you can use YouTube to create collaborative and powerful eLearning courses. He writes,

YouTube can be an invaluable learning tool that eLearning professionals can use to make their eLearning courses more interactive, fun, and informative. In fact, it has the power to transform a potentially dull or complicated subject matter into an overall exciting and engaging eLearning experience. The key to tapping into the power of YouTube is to know how to effectively integrate it into your eLearning strategy.

You can read more in his article, 8 Tips to Effectively Use YouTube in eLearning.

Additionally, you can find more information about using videos in your courses at the following links:

by Janice Florent

Course delivery is vulnerable to unplanned events. Potential interruptions to class activities include but are not limited to natural disasters, widespread illness, acts of violence, planned or unexpected construction-related closures, severe weather conditions, and medical emergencies. Whatever the event, an instructional continuity plan will help you to be ready to continue teaching with minimal interruption.

As you begin preparing for Spring 2015, consider developing an instructional continuity plan for your courses.

For those who missed our workshop and for those who want to learn more about instructional continuity you will find a link to the PowerPoint presentation above. Also, please visit our Instructional Continuity web page, where you will find planning guides, resources, and a recording of the workshop presentation.

image with the wording

Do you have a plan? If so, we would like to hear about it. If you had a classroom disruption and found a way for students to continue to make progress in your course, we encourage you to share it with your colleagues. Please email a brief description of what you did along with your reflections on how it worked for you, and we will post it to our Instructional Continuity web page.

by Karen Nichols:  I'm posting this message for anyone who may be interested.

Hello,

Please join me, Emily Ryan, Education Manager with The New York Times, for a brief demonstration of the various academic resources from NYTimes.com on Thursday, November 20th at 10AM PST / 1PM EST.

Learn About:

Academic resources inside NYTimes.com that will support your courses
Examples of how others have incorporated NYTimes.com into their curriculum
Special programs for core curriculum instruction and the study of leadership

Please feel free to register in advance and add this event to your calendar.

Click or copy/paste this link into your web browser: http://clearslide.com/v/k9u38s

To join the webinar on November 20th at 10AM PST/ 1PM EST simply click on the link below and dial into the toll-free conference line noted below.

Presentation Link:

clearslide.com/emilyryan

Dial in:
United States: (888) 419-5364
Conference Access Code: 3977-6248

I look forward to seeing you online.

Regards,
Emily Ryan
Education Manager

The New York Times
Sold by PCF, Inc.
(201) 560-2564

1

Video is one of the most powerful, motivating, and visual ways to learn. You can use videos to promote critical thinking and active learning.

There's a big difference between watching a video and learning something from it.

Emily A. Moore, M.Ed., instructional designer in the online learning office at Texas State Technical College – Harlingen Campus, gives suggestions to help increase the educational effectiveness of an online course video. Read more in her article, "From Passive Viewing to Online Learning: Simple Techniques for Applying Active Learning Strategies to Online Course Videos."

Video can easily and effectively be incorporated inside your Blackboard courses. There are several ways to add videos to your Blackboard courses.

To provide just-in-time feedback or to build in spontaneous interaction, faculty and students can use the Video Everywhere tool to record video directly via their webcam or reuse an already recorded video from their playlist. The Video Everywhere tool allows faculty and students to place video wherever the Content Editor is available, from discussion board posts, to assessment feedback, to blog posts, journals, wikis, and of course in announcements and content areas. Furthermore, by leveraging the power and ease of use of YouTube, the Video Everywhere tool allows you to add rich media into courses quickly and efficiently.

image showing Video Everywhere recording

Blackboard supports embedding and/or linking to video from many other systems and solutions. Sites such as YouTube, Vimeo, or other video repositories can be embedded easily by switching to html mode in the Content Editor and then pasting in the embed code.

image showing Embed Video using HTML code

The benefit of embedding video into a course is that it enables the students to stay within the context of the course and within the sequence of instruction, rather than linking out away from course content.

Another way to add video to your course is to upload the video file (i.e., MPEG/AVI, QuickTime, Flash/Shockwave, Microsoft .asf and .wmv formats).

Video files are generally large files. Your course size is total of your uploaded video files sizes along with the size of all other course content. Each Blackboard course has a 1.25 GB maximum course size limit. It is a good idea to embed or link to videos rather than uploading video files to your course to help you to stay within the maximum course size limit. You can upload your videos to YouTube, Vimeo, or other media server and then embed or link to the video within the course as explained above.

image showing Build Content

When adding video files, it is a good idea to include links to any browser plug-ins or media player files that users will need to view the videos.

Want more information?

Simple Techniques for Applying Active Learning Strategies to Videos
Video Everywhere
Best Practices for Posting Video Announcements
Creating Mashups
Embed Videos into Your Course
How to Create Audio, Image, and Video Links
Explore Blackboard’s On Demand Learning Center.
Try these Blackboard How-To documents.
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional blackboard information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

by Bart Everson

What is the connection between gambling, cocaine, and your classroom?

No, wait, I'm serious!

The answer is a little thing called dopamine, and it's released in the brain when we are rewarded.

Dopamine

Dopamine accounts in part for the thrill of gambling, the euphoria of certain drugs, the rush of adventure, and even — yes, it's true — the pleasure of learning something new in a college course.

It has to do with memory. Simply put, when dopamine is present, we remember; when it's not, we don't. We remember and return to the things that we find rewarding, the things we find pleasurable, the things that stimulate the release of dopamine.

So clearly, we want our students to have massive amounts of dopamine coursing through their brains as they participate in the classes we teach. How can we do this? By making the class fun, by presenting the content in an interesting fashion, by making the whole experience new and interesting and exciting.

Many of the best teachers already do this, of course. It's sheer instinct. If you are reading this post, there's a very high probability that you are already devoting effort in that direction.

Dr. Martha Burns uses the mnemonic NEAR as a key to successful teaching. NEAR stands for "New, Exciting And Rewarding." These are the keys to keeping dopamine levels high, which correlates with better memory and increased retention.

And, let's face it, learning is probably better for our overall well-being than gambling or illicit drugs.


You can read more from Dr. Burns in the article, "Dopamine and Learning: What the Brain’s Reward Center Can Teach Educators." Photo credit: Work found at Dopamine / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

the class

Who'd've thought? Teachers have long known that reflection can help students, but now there's scientific evidence to back that up.

Learning is more effective if a lesson or experience is deliberately coupled with time spent thinking about what was just presented, a new study shows. In “Learning by Thinking: How Reflection Aids Performance,” a team of researchers from HEC Paris, Harvard Business School, and the University of North Carolina describe what they call the first empirical test of the effect of reflection on learning. By “reflection,” they mean taking time after a lesson to synthesize, abstract, or articulate the important points.

Read the whole article from The Atlantic: You Really Can 'Work Smarter, Not Harder'. Or, if you prefer your science "straight up" head over to the Social Science Research Network for the paper: Learning by Thinking: How Reflection Aids Performance.

If you're in a hurry, here's the ultimate takehome point for teachers: build a little time for reflection into your lesson plans. If you're already doing this, consider yourself vindicated.

Photo: the class by hitzi1000

Course delivery is vulnerable to unplanned events. Potential interruptions to class activities include but are not limited to natural disasters, widespread illness, acts of violence, planned or unexpected construction-related closures, severe weather conditions, and medical emergencies. Whatever the event, an instructional continuity plan will help you to be ready to continue teaching with minimal interruption.

For those who missed last week's presentation and for those who want to learn more about instructional continuity you will find a link to the PowerPoint presentation above. Also, please visit our Instructional Continuity web page, where you will find planning guides, resources, and a recording of the workshop presentation.

1

Microlecturing is a short (1-3 minutes long) multi-media presentation used to engage learners. Jana Jab, co-founder of Edynco, has a concise but detailed article discussing when one would want to use microlectures and how to create them.

What can microlectures do?

  • provide a brief overview of a topic using key concepts
  • provide step-by-step instructions (i.e. how to solve a problem)
  • provide a personal introduction to a topic to engage your learners
  • provide a breakdown of a larger lecture into smaller more manageable pieces for your learners


How can one create a microlecture
?

Of course, you can always come to CAT and use our Camtasia studio and receive expert support from Bart Everson--Happy Microlecturing!

Spritz, a Boston-based tech company, is releasing to the general public a new app that allows you to speed read in a different way from other similar products that are currently available.

After a few years of research and development, they are ready to launch a wearable technology product for Samsung. This reader lines up the words to our actual way of reading (slightly left of center of each word) so that one's head isn't constantly moving as we read across and down a page.

image from spritzinc.com
image from spritzinc.com

I tried samples of three different speeds provided and found it difficult to concentrate. My mind wanted to wander--make associations with other texts, search memories. While I think this app could be extremely useful for technical reading, I'm not sure I would like to use it for literature or even non-literary fiction. Part of the "fun" of reading is savoring well-written prose or conjuring up delightful images of the characters and places described. At up to 1000 words a minute, there's no time for that!

Want to experience what it would feel like to "spritz"? Elite Daily offers samples as well as additional information. If you have a need for speed and are looking for time-saving measures, this might be the app for you! And if you decide to try it, please let us know what you think.